Jandel Gustave
Astros' Jandel Gustave: In battle for final bullpen spot
Jandel Gustave, RP, HOU
3/26/2017
News: Gustave and James Hoyt will battle for the final spot in the bullpen over the final week of spring training, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Each reliever will at least once over the final three Grapefruit League games as well as an inning in one of the two exhibition game against the Cubs on Thursday and Friday in Houston. A decision is not expected to come until late in the week. From a pure numbers perspective Gustave has been the better pitcher during spring training, but the eventual winner will be the one who pitches more effectively against left-handers. That skill favors Hoyt and his split-fingered fastball.

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Will Harris
Astros' Will Harris: Strikes out side Sunday
Will Harris, RP, HOU
3/26/2017
News: Harris struck out all three batters faced in Sunday's game against the Nationals.

Harris has pitched two consecutive perfect innings, striking out five of six batters faced. As one of three Houston relievers to post double-digit saves in 2016, he's shown the ability to close out games. The first choice to save games in 2017 will be the same guy who finished in the closer's role last season, Ken Giles. Harris and Luke Gregerson, who saved three games for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, will be available as fill-ins for Giles, who has blown 25 percent of his save opportunities the last two seasons.

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Nate Jones
White Sox's Nate Jones: Makes first post-WBC appearance
Nate Jones, RP, CHW
3/26/2017
News: Jones struck out two in a perfect inning of relief Sunday against San Francisco.

Jones had been away with Team USA competing in the World Baseball Classic. Sunday's outing was like the regular season contest with Jones pitching an inning followed by closer David Robertson. Jones will be setting up Robertson this season and could sneak in a few save opportunities as a result. If, and more likely when, the White Sox trade Robertson, Jones could be in line for additional save chances.

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David Robertson
White Sox's David Robertson: Makes return to game action
David Robertson, RP, CHW
3/26/2017
News: Robertson threw a perfect inning of relief Sunday against the Giants.

Robertson was making his first appearance for the White Sox since returning from the World Baseball Classic. The right-hander will get some occasional work in over the final week of camp, but due to his preparation for the WBC, Robertson is already in regular-season shape.

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Chase Whitley
Rays' Chase Whitley: Could be long-relief option
Chase Whitley, RP, TB
3/26/2017
News: Whitley, who gave up a hit and walk while recording two strikeouts over 1.1 scoreless innings in Friday's loss to the Pirates, could be deployed as a long reliever if the Rays deal Erasmo Ramirez, Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times reports.

The 27-year-old righty would provide the Rays with an experienced arm in the bullpen capable of going multiple innings, as he has 17 career starts under his belt, 16 of which came with the Yankees before Tommy John surgery. Whitley has had an uneven spring, generating a 4.91 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 11:2 K:BB over 11 innings across five appearances.

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Erasmo Ramirez
Rays' Erasmo Ramirez: Pitching solidly despite two spring losses
Erasmo Ramirez, RP, TB
3/26/2017
News: Ramirez, who took his second loss of spring against the Pirates on Friday, is nevertheless looking refreshed and effective, Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times reports.

The rubber-armed righty gave up three runs (one earned) on four hits and a walk over four innings, but also notched four strikeouts. His spring ERA sits at a solid 3.12 and has looked as good as he did early last season before he succumbed to some fatigue later in the campaign. Ramirez was on a 60-pitch limit against the Pirates but got through his four frames with 58, 39 of which found the strike zone. If he isn't dealt for a right-handed hitting outfielder, Ramirez is expected to be a valuable asset for the Rays in long relief during the coming season.

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James Hoyt
Astros' James Hoyt: Competing for final bullpen spot
James Hoyt, RP, HOU
3/26/2017
News: Hoyt and Jandel Gustave are competing for the final spot in the bullpen, Brian McTaggart of the Astros' official site reports.

The Astros' decision to keep starter Brad Peacock as a long-relief option leaves one final spot in the bullpen. Hoyt pitched an inning Sunday, allowing a hit and striking out one batter. He showed some success against left-handers in 2016 and has some value for a team that counts Tony Sipp as its lone lefty out of the pen.

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John Axford
Athletics' John Axford: Struggling with command in spring
John Axford, RP, OAK
3/26/2017
News: Axford has struggled over five appearances this spring, generating a 5.06 ERA, 2.44 WHIP and 2:5 K:BB across 5.3 innings.

The veteran reliever, who was a valuable part of the bullpen last season with 15 holds and three saves, has endured some rough sledding this spring and hasn't taken the mound since March 17. Axford was also considered to be a contender for the closer role at one point, and did notably notch 25 saves as recently as 2015 while with the Rockies. However, it would appear that incumbent ninth-inning specialist Ryan Madson and newcomer Santiago Casilla -- who has a solid late-inning track record in his own right -- are the frontrunners for the position at present.

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Sam Dyson
Rangers' Sam Dyson: Coming off near-perfect WBC
Sam Dyson, RP, TEX
3/26/2017
News: Dyson threw six perfect innings over five World Baseball Classic appearances, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Dyson was flawless throughout the WBC, suggesting any wrist ailment that had been bothering him in early-March is now a thing of the past. It also helps solidify his status as the frontrunner for the Rangers closer position, despite Jeremy Jeffress and Matt Bush waiting in the wings. Dyson may not yet have as long of a leash as other veteran closers, but if he continues to use an upper-90s sinker to induce frequent ground balls, removing him from that role would become increasingly difficult. The 28-year-old was tremendously successful in his first chance as a full-time closer last season, posting a 2.43 ERA while converting 38 of 43 save opportunities.

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Sean Doolittle
Athletics' Sean Doolittle: Takes loss Saturday
Sean Doolittle, RP, OAK
3/26/2017
News: Doolittle (0-1) struck out the side but also gave up two earned runs on three hits over one inning in Saturday's 11-6 split-squad Cactus League loss to the Reds.

The two runs Doolittle gave up in the seventh, which included an RBI triple by Stuart Turner and back-to-back doubles, snapped a 6-6 tie. The 30-year-old reliever started his spring with a pair of scoreless outings but has derailed in his last two trips to the mound, surrendering four earned runs on five hits over two innings. Doolittle posted double-digit holds last season for the first time since the 2013 campaign despite battling shoulder problems, and he's being counted on for a prominent bullpen role once again in the coming season.

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